Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Origin of Peace Silver Dollar Coins

If you are either an amateur or professional coin collector, you will no doubt be familiar with collecting Peace Silver Dollar coins which hold a high value in price amongst professional collectors. To understand the true importance of these coins beyond their monetary value, we should first discuss their origin in American history.

Peace Silver Dollars hold a special place in the hearts and minds of all serious numismatists and coin collectors for the creation of these coins was inspired by hobbyists from their own rankings. The issue of these silver dollars was the brainchild of an article in The Numismatist, the publication of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), which is proposed in the magazine's November 1918 issue that a special coin be mined to commemorate the then imminent ending of World War I. This commemorative coin proposal was to have been presented in ANA's 1918 summer convention, but a flu pandemic caused the meeting's cancellation.

It was at the August 1920 ANA convention in Chicago that the proposed coin issue was finally presented, calling for US Treasury authorities to mint either a half-dollar or a dollar commemorative piece. The ANA proponents found some powerful backers in Washington, allowing the mining not only just for a commemorative coin, but one silver dollar issue for general circulation. It also helped that the US Treasury then was empowered by the 1918 Pittman Act to convert up to 350 million silver dollars into bullion either for sale or for minting replacement dollars.

The dollar size very well fits the ANA proposal which called for a coin that would have as much space as possible for the interpretation of the significance of the cessation of World War I. Eight famous sculptors of the time were invited by the US Commission on Fine Arts in late 1921 for a design competition on the new silver dollar. The design of Antony de Francisci, a sculptor with Italian ancestry, eventually won the competition and approved by US President Harding.

The Peace Silver Dollars started minting on December 1921 and circulation started January 1922. Slight modulations had to be made after over 1 million dollar coins were already stuck. The coin's relief was too high; attractive, yes, as the engraved features stuck out, but the dollars were unwieldy to stack. With the relief lowered, 84 million dollars were mined in 1922, the highest in its series. The Pittman Act's quota for replacement dollars was met in 1928, and with the lack of public demand for Peace Dollars, its minting stopped that year. Six years later, minting of the Peace Silver Dollars resumed for a period of two years (1934-1935) to provide the US government added security backing for issued Silver Certificates.

After a long hiatus, President Johnson in 1964 ordered minting of new Peace Silver Dollars but due to Congress passing the Coinage Act of 1965, the production of this new series was canceled. Although some of these silver coins were already stuck, the government ordered them to be melted down so no coins from this production exist today. Historically, the peace silver dollars celebrate more than the victory of the Allies in World War I. These coins have a value as proud showcase of the democratic ideals of liberty, honor and prosperity. The hope of a new era is eloquently manipulated in the coin's proud eagle atop a slope facing toward sunrise.

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